Who is Bryan Zaragoza, the 22-year-old tormentor of Barcelona and now Spain call-up?

Barcelona’s 2-2 draw against Granada at Nuevo Los Carmenes was a pulsating affair, and one that both sides will be disappointed that they were unable to win.

The hosts raced into a two-goal lead inside the opening half hour, before goals from Lamine Yamal and Sergi Roberto rescued a point – although they were denied a late winner when Joao Felix’s effort was ruled out for offside.

The big takeaway from the match was the performance of Bryan Zaragoza. The 22-year-old is someone that has been highly-rated by regular watchers of Spanish football, but it was not until his display against Barcelona that more casual fans have begun to take stock of how good he is.

Zaragoza tormented Barcelona for much of the evening. He scored after 17 seconds, before adding a second on 29 minutes. The latter was especially impressive, as he made a fool off Jules Kounde before slotting past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

Zaragoza is an Andalusian boy through and through. Having been born in Malaga, he joined Granada’s youth setup in 2019. Having spent a couple of seasons in the club’s B team, he established himself in the first team last season, helping them secure promotion back to La Liga in the process.

He scored five goals and providing one assist across 34 appearances during the 2022-23 campaign, but it was his general play that excited onlookers. He always looked to beat his direct opponent, and is often very successful with dribbles and take-ons.

As per Marca, Zaragoza stated that dribbling is his best attribute, and his biggest passion in football.

“I play for dribbling. I don’t play to run after the ball or play for anything else. Since I was little in the neighbourhood, I have played all my life to dribble, and in the end I play for that.”

As a youngster, Zaragoza committed to looking up to Lionel Messi – hardly surprisingly – but he now says that he uses Real Madrid superstar Vinicius Junior as a reference point.

“Since I was little, my reference has always been Leo Messi, because he has always been the best. I liked Neymar a lot and now, lately, I look a lot at Vinicius in La Liga.”

Zaragoza has already matched his goal tally from last season in the current campaign, and understandably, his performances have been noticed by Spain head coach Luis de la Fuente, who has called him up for La Roja’s next two Euro 2024 qualifying matches against Scotland and Norway – a just reward for his hard work over the last few weeks.

Fortunately for Granada, Zaragoza remains fully committed to them. However, it would not be a surprise if clubs across Spain and Europe began to take notice of him, and looked to make a move in the future, possibly as early as January.

Tags Barcelona Bryan Zaragoza Granada Spain
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